VICTORIA – Imagine books that cross science fiction with historical romance, mystery with fantasy, or just mix all the genres together into one compelling work.
Contemporary literary scholar, author and critic Lance Olsen will discuss the blurring of genre lines in contemporary fiction and the general state of innovative fiction in the third installment of the University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Spring Reading Series.
The public is invited to his speech and multimedia presentation at noon on April 3 in the Alcorn Auditorium of UHV’s University West building, 3007 N. Ben Wilson. The event is free, and light refreshments will be served.
Reviewers have described Olsen as “among the finest writers of social critique and speculative fiction today” and praised his experiments with voice, form and subject matter in various works.
For example, in his 2006 novel “Nietzsche’s Kisses,” Olsen took his readers into the dying mind of one of the most radical and influential 19th century German philosophers. As Friedrich Nietzsche spends his last nights locked in a small room, he hovers between dreaming and consciousness, memory and hallucination, past and present. His perspective shifts through the first, second and third person as he relives a past love affair with feminist Lou Salome, an encounter with composer Richard Wagner, and his conflicted relationship with his anti-Semitic sister Lisbeth, who distorted her brother’s philosophy into a cult that attracted the rising proto-Nazi movement.
Olsen also created a Web version of his novel “10:01” in collaboration with multimedia artist Tim Guthrie. The work was published by the Iowa Review Web in 2005 and included in the Electronic Literature Organization collective.
In his most recent work, “Anxious Pleasures,” Olsen retells the story of Kafka’s Metamorphosis from the supporting cast’s point of view.
“Intricately woven and richly imagined, Olsen’s novel is a cerebral treat unto itself and a fine companion to Kafka’s original,” praised Publishers Weekly.
Olsen has authored nine novels, one hypertext, four critical studies, four short-story collections and a textbook about fiction writing. He also has edited two collections of essays about innovative contemporary fiction. He serves as chairman of Fiction Collective 2 (one of America’s best-known innovative fiction presses and progressive art communities) and an associate editor for ABR.
His short stories, essays, poems and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals, magazines and anthologies, including The Village Voice, Time Out, BOMB, Gulf Coast and “Best American Non-Required Reading.” His works have been translated into Italian, Polish, Turkish and Finnish.
Olsen’s work has earned him many honors, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and even led him to be appointed as Writer-In-Residence by the Idaho governor. His novel, “Tonguing the Zeitgeist,” was a finalist for the Phillip K. Dick Award.
He still finds time to teach innovative fiction and fiction writing at the University of Utah.
“Too much of fiction these days falls into tired templates where a few cookie-cutter characters are plugged into generic plots that resemble countless books people have read before,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, editor and publisher of ABR and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “Lance Olsen is one of the authors who truly keeps the creative spirit in fiction alive, writing the kind of works we strive to draw attention to through ABR.”
The UHV/ABR Reading Series brings nationally recognized writers to the Victoria campus of UHV for several days. Scheduled events include author roundtable discussions with UHV students, faculty and community members; consultations with graduate, upper-division and high school students; community lectures; podcasts of Reading Series lectures; and invitation-only readings/lecture receptions.
“With all of these fine writers, ABR has brought a kind of literary renaissance to UHV,” President Tim Hudson said. “As a constant reader, I always enjoy new perspectives and innovative storytelling styles.”
Past speakers for the UHV/ABR Reading Series include Graciela Limón, Justin Cronin, Angela Ball, Raymond Federman, Andrei Codrescu, Chitra Divakaruni, Dagoberto Gilb, R. M. Berry and Robert Phillips.
The 2007/2008 UHV/ABR Reading Series lecturers will conclude April 24 with Farnoosh Moshiri, a playwright, poet, short-story author and refugee from Iran. Born to a literary family in Tehran, Iran, she fled that country after the fall of the Shah. Her plays, short stories and poems were published in Iranian literary magazines before the 1979 revolution and in anthologies published outside Iran in the 1980s. In 1983, she fled her country after a massive arrest of secular intellectuals, feminists and political activists. She now teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Houston.
ABR is an internationally distributed literary journal with a circulation of about 8,000. ABR recently finished its move from Illinois State University to UHV.
For more information on Olsen’s presentation or the UHV/ABR Reading Series, contact ABR Managing Editor Charles Alcorn at (361) 570-4100.